Stoltenberg defends Obama's prize

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Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg firmly defended the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to US President Barack Obama. While Obama himself said others may be more deserving than himself, Stoltenberg claimed the prize was “well-deserved” indeed.

“In my opinion, (Obama’s) Nobel Peace Prize is very well-deserved,” Stoltenberg told reporters after holding talks with Obama in his office Thursday morning.

Stoltenberg said Obama’s leadership, vision and initiatives taken during the past year qualify him well to meet the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will. Stoltenberg said he couldn’t “think of anyone else who has done more … than Barack Obama” to create the conditions for peace that Nobel sought.

Stoltenberg cited Obama’s initiatives to further international cooperation, dialog and “solving common problems together” as being “in the best spirit” of Alfred Nobel’s will.

The Norwegian prime minister said he supported the Nobel Committee’s decision to award the prize to Obama, calling it “a bold and important decision.”

Stoltenberg’s vigorous defense of the prize at a short, international press conference came after questions arose about whether the prize was “premature” and how Obama might use it to further his work.

“First of all, as I said earlier, (the prize) was a great surprise to me,” Obama said. “I have no doubt there may be others who are more deserving.”

But he said his goal is “to continue on the path” he’s staked out to achieve “a world free of nuclear weapons, towards addressing climate change, stabilizing countries like Afghanistan” and fighting terrorism in a manner “consistent with our values.”

Obama said his goal wasn’t “to win a popularity contest or win awards,” even though he was honoured by the Nobel Peace Prize. “The goal is to advance Amerca’s interests and make us a force for good in the world,” he said.

“If I’m successful in those tasks, than perhaps some of the criticism will subside,” Obama said. If he doesn’t succeed, the criticism about the Peace Prize won’t be among his most pressing concerns.